3-pin XLR to 3.5mm audio jack - sound quality

Ethers

Novice Member
I’ve bought a Sennheiser MKE 600 (shotgun microphone) to record birds migrating over my house at night. The output from the mic is a 3 pin XLR socket. I’ve also bought a Sony ICD-PX470 Digital voice recorder, which has a 3.5mm jack as input. I'm using a 3-pin XLR to 3.5mm jack converter lead, so I can connect my mic to my recorder and just press ‘record’ when I hear something.

So, my question is – am I loosing any sound quality by using a recorder with a 3.5mm jack? I notice that some (rather more expensive) sound recorders have 3-pin XLR inputs on them, so I’m trying to figure out if I’m getting the full benefit of the mic by using a recorder with a 3.5mm jack, or would the quality increase noticeably if I purchased a recorder with a 3-pin XLR input. Many of the bird-calls that I’m recording are quite distant or faint, so the more that I can do to increase the sound quality the better. Any ideas?
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Welcome to the Forum.

XLR cables are far better than neutrik over long lengths, that's why stage mics have them. It's not so much XLR to jack losing you information but the length of that cable. A recorder with XLR connection would be better.

@Ethers I've also moved your question to the HiFi Separates board, more likely to get help there.
 

Ethers

Novice Member
Hi @gibbsy. Thanks for greeting and moving my post to a better location.
My cable is 3 metres/10 foot long - do you think that will result in quality degradation? I've read that XLR cables can run up to 100+ feet before signal quality becomes an issue but I know practically nothing about this sort of stuff so don't know what's accurate. Thanks.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Should be fine I use 3 metre long headphone extension cables, unbalanced, and with a total length of 6 metres including the headphone's cable themselves there is no loss of quality. When you are talking of legth it's the kind of lengths you see artists using on stage, probably over ten times longer than what you require.
 

noiseboy72

Distinguished Member
Does the lead work? I assume the microphone has its own battery in it - or is designed to work with "Plug in Power" - as opposed to the normal standard for XLR connected mics which is phantom power.

The XLR connection allows for balanced line configuration - which is much lower noise than the unbalanced 3.5mm connection. This is because the signal is lower impedance and uses differential signals so that any interference from outside of the mic cable is nullified. This will be the "hiss" and pops and clicks that you might otherwise hear when you turn up the volume.

To get the best recordings, you need the lowest possible noise floor - and I doubt that a recorder designed for speech is going to have a particularly sensitive input stage, so the noise floor won't be that low.

You might do better with a Tascam or Zoom recorder, as these have much better input stages and lower noise floors. They also have balanced connections and phantom power, so this will probably help to improve things again.

Other things to consider: What wind filter do you have? For outdoor use, you want a Rycote or "Dead Cat" sock that fits over the mic. If you are hand holding, a good shock mount is required, as otherwise, any movement of the mic will be very audible.
 

Ethers

Novice Member
Hi @noisyboy72. The lead works OK. The mic uses one AA battery (which is what I'm currently using with the Sony voice recorder), but can also run on phantom power. The only wind filter that I have is the one that came with the mic, namely a foam one: MZW 600 | Sennheiser
I wonder if I might be better off buying something like the Tascam DR-40X, which by the sound of it will give me XLR connection as well as phantom power. Would you recommend the dead cat over the foam wind shield? Thanks for everyone's help so far.
 

noiseboy72

Distinguished Member
Yep, dead cat will be 5x better against wind noise. The foam is fine for light breezes, but anything else will cause noise.

The DR40x is an excellent device and I think will sound a lot better than the Sony.
 

The latest video from AVForums

AVForums Movies Podcast: Which is the best decade for horror movies?
Subscribe to our YouTube channel
Support AVForums with Patreon

Top Bottom